Malaysia’s Enticing Penang

Enticing Penang is a hype of activity and very different to the rest of Malaysia…

Getting to Penang

Kuala Lumpur to Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

The Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) bus station is extremely busy and similar to a bustling airport – people and craft coming and going every 5 minutes.

When you purchase your ticket at this station for the Kuala Lumpur to Penang journey, make sure you ask the ticket office the actual name of the bus. Never assume that if the company is the Etika Express then the bus is named the same.

Purchasing the tickets for the 5-hour journey for the Etika Express, we discover that the bus is named the “Seasons” and we nearly missed the bus. Luckily, I checked with another passenger on the same platform for the bus to Penang.

A little on Penang

Laying by the busy Malacca Strait, Penang is densely populated with a diverse background in religion, culture, and language.

colonial architecture, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

This melting pot is a delight to explore.


Dating back 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, Penang became a British colony in 1867 and strategically important during WWII.

colonial architecture, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Many houses for sale on the island

Wander Georgetown’s historical streets and discover beautiful colonial architecture. See Penang before its elegant buildings fade into history and are over-run by concrete high rises.

colonial architecture, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
East meets West

Bumped into a few shops with unusual items for sale…

shop sculpture, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Discarded toy

What to see

Spend several days in the gorgeous World Heritage-listed Georgetown and discover its unique and wonderful restored architecture.

colonial architecture, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

Or just amble along the alleyways and seek a different Georgetown in the back streets…

colonial architecture, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

Street art

The street art in Penang is dazzling and breathtaking.

Some art incorporates 3-dimensional scenes with actual bicycles or iron-work and people in varying wall canvases.

Street art, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

Murals emerge from around every corner to grab your attention – you simply can’t walk past these famous murals.

Street art, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

Try to be patient (I’m not) when taking photos of street art as these are also very popular with the local tourists, which love having many photos taken.

Street art, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

Perbadanan Muzium Negeri Kelantan

The Perbadanan Muzium Negeri Kelantan WW11 Memorial is a great respite from the heat and houses an informative display of this era, including some outside displays of aeroplane parts and turrets.

Fort Cornwallis

On Pulau Pinang’s northeastern tip along the seafront, Fort Cornwallis was built in the 1700s and it’s worth a stroll around these wonderful metre-thick walls. A small stone church is hidden inside the fort.

Fort Cornwallis, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
In readiness

The history and also restoration of the Fort are documented with faded photographs and text.

Fort Cornwallis, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

It’s also pleasant just walking around the grounds surrounded by this wonderful history in a picturesque setting with sea views, but bring the mosquito repellent as they’re fierce here!

Fort Cornwallis, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Surveying the waters

Wat Chayamanangkalaram

Tried to find one of the world’s largest reclining Buddha’s, the Wat Chayamanangkalaram as apparently, it’s a spectacular sight to behold.

Sadly, after walking around 10 kilometres away from the city in the scorching heat, asking several times in broken Thai (no one understands us), tempers fraying, we give up!

Trying to return to the city with buses whizzing past but not stopping, and after walking a very long way, finally, a bus driver takes pity on a couple of dishevelled tourists and stops – our feet are saved.

Tan Jetty

Take your camera to Tan Jetty in the Pengkalan Weld district.

Tan Jetty, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Watery home

You won’t be disappointed with the ever-changing traditional scenes of local life.

Tan Jetty, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Traditional boat building

Strolling through the winding timber jetty, homes and unusual tiny wooden shops are shaded from the sultry heat and makes for a shadowy atmosphere.

Tan Jetty, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Salty abode

The only colourful building along the jetty…

Tan Jetty, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Breaking the mould

Traditional fishing boats moored in the channel.

Tan Jetty, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Rafted up


Tan Jetty, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

Kapitan Keling Mosque

Established in the early 1800s, the impressive Kapitan Keling Mosque was enlarged in 1930, as the original design was ‘deemed impractical’.

Kapitan Keling Mosque, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Renewed beauty

Where to sleep

Georgetown offers an abundance of hotels and guesthouses at varying prices.

Inside converted mansions, and shops is where you find accommodation with quaint courtyards and colonial fit-outs. And of course, some accommodation is in better condition than others. Throughout SE Asia it seems that the facades and lobbies are much better than the actual rooms.

mirror, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

The Heritage Lodge in Georgetown is pricey for the type of accommodation offered and quite noisy.

The price includes a communal breakfast. If you’re not an early riser, then you miss out or pick up the crumbs left by other lodgers as nothing is replenished. The upside is that there is always a plethora of eating stalls and restaurants open in Malaysia offering delicious alternatives, so go out and explore for breakfast.

Street art, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Odd shop

Where to eat

Penang is host to diversity and deliciousness when it comes to food. A profusion of exotic flavours arouse the senses and drives any stomach to hunger.

Hawker Stalls

Georgetown is famous for its hawker stalls, which are abundant, cheap, and serve up delicious food.

hawkers, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Lunch stop

Assam Laksa is famous here and locals travel from afar just to savour this dish here in Georgetown. So, make sure you try this before you leave as it is simply delicious.

Kompleks Makanan Medan Renong

Kompleks Makanan Medan Renong seafront food markets on Jalan Tun Syed Shah Barakah is recommended in a couple of the guide books. I’m not impressed as the same meals and quality is offered throughout the markets so not much variety. The chicken satay sticks accompanied with a stingy amount of peanut sauce is very tasty.

Becak, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

Red Garden Food Paradise 

This food paradise serves up a selection of scrumptious local and western food at cheap prices.

Order the chicken and fried rice, which comes with a small bowl of soup for a minimal amount or choose from even cheaper or much more expensive meals. Be aware, the beer isn’t cheap.

hawker, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Cooking up a storm

Armenian House

The Armenian House offers wonderful coffee but it isn’t cheap. Yummy toasted sandwiches and cakes served in a lovely ambience by great staff.

70’s Ice

A tiny stall along 78 Armenian Street makes shaved ice into a condensed hard ice ball. Two or more types of syrup are poured over the ice ball and skewered so that you can pick this up and suck or crunch into the ice ball.

70's Ice, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Refreshing 70’s Ice balls

An excellent way to cool down on a sweltering hot day in Penang.

Try the Indian restaurant/café on Jalan Penang (up from the Oriental Hotel). Loads of cheap delicious and great Indian dishes available at super cheap prices. Pick from ready-made dishes or order freshly made ones from the menu. Fast service by very friendly staff at this very busy restaurant frequented by both locals and tourists.

flowers, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Flower market

Understandably, Malaysia is conservative when it comes to serving alcohol, drinking, bars, and nightclubs. Penang however, seems to be the exception to the rule. You can buy almost anything on the island.

flowers, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Vibrant scents

Just a side note: – it’s well-known that Malay men frequent Thailand’s Hat Yai border crossing for “entertainment”.

flowers, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia
Fresh sculptures

Leaving Malaysia

Travelling by bus to Thailand from Penang Island is easy.

hawker, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, SE Asia

Organise a mini-bus to Hat Yai – Thailand’s border – from the many agents in the Komtar Mall in Georgetown.

The border crossing (checking-out of Malaysia and checking-in to Thailand) is included in this 3-hour journey. You are granted a 30-day free visa, on arrival in Thailand.

Once in Hat Yai, expect a wait of around 2 hours for the connecting mini-bus to Phuket Town, which takes around 6.5-hours and is also included in the ticket purchased in Malaysia.

Going to miss the amazing food in Malaysia. Although, as I love Thai food, then I also can’t wait to eat my way around Thailand. Food is a passion!

Visit my Nilla’s Photography Malaysia Gallery for more images. More blogs on Malaysia at Image Earth Travel.

Malaysia map, SE Asia
A path well-travelled – 10+ weeks of travel through Malaysia

28 thoughts on “Malaysia’s Enticing Penang

Add yours

  1. It is indeed a “well-travelled path” as shown on your last map! Lovely photo’s again … like the one with the traditional fishing boats very much 👍🏻. Oh yes, and that mural with the bicycle … that’s something else!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Been to Penang a couple of years back. I clearly remember the funicular railway that goes to Penang Hilltop. Don’t see that mentioned here. Also recall Georgetown and Wat Chayamangkalaram.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is a surprise at every corner. Quite beautiful. The little girl on a bike with her brother had been tagged on a while back but restored. One of great artists seems to be Tom Powell.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Absolutely. And whenever I go to the MOMA in NY I remember that all those “modern” artists are all dead. Picasso led us to Pollock who led us to Duchamps and eventualy three white empty canvasses. The end of art.
      Now, on the contrary, street art – to me – has revived art. Totally. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Sadly, they are but what a legacy they’ve left for the world to enjoy and appreciate.

      I think it’s a wonderful visual art often delivered with a politically-charged message that reaches the masses for free, so, affordable to everyone. 🙂


    4. Nahh, forgotten all my Bahasa Indo, which is similar to Bahasa Malay. Doesn’t hurt to know a few words for the country in which you travel – always appreciated by the locals and shows a little respect I think. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Totally agree. Language is one of the many “layers” of travelling. And one of my favourite. Say a few words in the local language and the locals are immensely appreciative. Means you have made the effort to learn hello, goodbye, please, thank you. It is just politeness. Manners I would say. Or details like handing over things with two hands instead of one? You can see a look of recognition and thanks in people’s eye. 🙂
      Bene, bene, cara Nilla, buona sera, I have to run an errand. 🙂
      Ciao, ciao.

      Liked by 1 person

    6. Indeed it is and a critical layer to understanding a country as a local and not just as a traveller.

      I’m lucky enough to know enough Italian to make conversation with locals and can kind of understand a few other dialects, which can be difficult. It’s a much richer absorption of a country.
      A dopo 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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